Philippine senator seeks legislative probe of Duterte's bank transactions

MANILA (Reuters) - A Philippine senator and staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday filed a resolution seeking a legislative inquiry into whether Duterte and his eldest daughter had concealed assets amounting to almost $2 million.

FILE PHOTO: Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte Rodrigo Duterte gestures during a news conference on the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Pasay, metro Manila, Philippines, November 14, 2017. REUTERS/Dondi Tawatao

Senator Antonio Trillanes asked the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies to probe deposits and investments involving their accounts, which he said could show possible violations of the country’s anti-money laundering law.

Duterte has cultivated an image as a humble man who disdains opulence and is uninterested in wealth and materialism.

Trillanes has long accused Duterte of failing to disclose his wealth going back to his time as mayor of southern Davao City prior to winning the presidency in May 2016.

Duterte has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and promised to resign if there was proof.

The president has even instructed the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to disclose the transactions, yet he has still to sign the required waiver for that to happen.

Trillanes cited a recent report by VERA Files, a local investigative news organization, which said Duterte and daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio, who succeeded him as Davao mayor, failed to disclose deposits and investments exceeding 100 million pesos ($1.94 million) in their official asset declarations.

Duterte-Carpio also denies wrongdoing.

VERA Files said the bank records it saw came from the Senate and were entered into records by Trillanes himself, who claimed the same documents came from the AMLC.

The presidential palace dismissed Trillanes’ allegation as “old news” and said the lawmaker has no proof.

“The council had said those documents did not come from them and that the data he was talking about was incorrect,” said Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque.

Roque said any plan to oust the highly popular leader would fail.

The deputy ombudsman last year initiated an inquiry into allegations that Duterte had hidden assets. The president’s office last week sought his removal.

Duterte has sparred repeatedly with Trillanes. Last year, he alleged that the senator had secret overseas bank accounts and read out the account number of one live on television. Duterte later admitted, however, that he had deliberately read out a false account number, but did not say why.

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Martin Petty & Simon Cameron-Moore